F1: Should Williams give Jolyon Palmer a lifeline for 2018?

Steven Coney

Jolyon Palmer will not be driving for Renault in Formula 1 next season, but speculation continues to mount that he could remain on the grid with Williams – is it a match made in heaven?

It’s fair to say that both Palmer and Williams have had little to smile about this season.

Palmer’s failed to finish five of the 14 races so far in 2017 – of course more Renault’s fault than his – while Williams have failed to live up to expectations by constantly failing to find the pace we all thought they might have.

You would need to have a pretty cold heart not to feel sorry for Palmer following the treatment he’s received from Renault.

Yes, he hasn’t pulled up any trees for the French outfit in his two seasons in Formula 1 – picking up just a single point before his sixth place finish at Singapore – but finding out out you’ve lost your job on the internet is unacceptable.

Carlos Sainz will be teaming up with Nico Hulkenberg for Renault next season, leaving Palmer out in the cold and with very few options if he wishes to remain in F1.

One of those options is undoubtedly Williams. Veteran Felipe Massa looks all set to retire and who can blame him? He’s been swimming against the tide this season and is only three points ahead of rookie Lance Stroll in the Drivers’ Championship.

The Canadian, meanwhile, has turned things around after retiring from the first three races of the season and has picked up points in five of the last eight races including that surprise podium in Baku.

The Grove-based team will soon have to start making some difficult decisions as they look towards next year.

Paul di Resta, the team’s current third driver, stepped in to replace Massa in Hungary when the Brazilian was taken ill. While the Scot had to retire after 60 laps, he gained a lot of credit for the professional way he carried himself having not raced in F1 for four years.

The romantic’s choice will of course be Robert Kubica – and who can blame them? The Pole hasn’t had a full-time drive in Formula 1 since 2010 and his racing career looked to be over completely in 2011 after having part of his right arm amputated following a serious rally crash.

Kubica participated in the post-Hungarian test for Renault two months ago, completing 142 laps of the Hungaroring on his return, but a full-time F1 gig next year may just be too soon.

The safest option has to be Jolyon Palmer. In the more supportive atmosphere of the Williams garage, the Englishman could well produce his best racing.

Jolyon’s dad Jonathan, a former F1 driver who made his debut with Williams back in 1983, clearly likes the idea of the pair coming together.

“A few good races and Williams might take notice. Williams will want to take their best option and he has the chance to show he is that over the next few races.”

– Jonathan Palmer

If Palmer can produce a couple more displays like Singapore – where he grabbed sixth – it would seem obvious that Williams would make the move.

Even if he doesn’t, the former GP2 champion has shown enough, both on and off the track to warrant another shot in F1.

With the sweeping changes that are being brought into F1 in the next few seasons, a one-year contract for Jolyon Palmer at Williams seems like a good deal for all concerned. Perhaps they can both put this season behind them and move on to bigger and better things.

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